Ready for Radical Life Extension? Americans Are Wary of Living to 120 and Beyond, According to Pew Research

A recent Pew Research study  reported on how Americans view "living to 120 and beyond". Current medical advances already mean that more than half of babies born in 2000 in countries with long-life expectancies - read: Japan, Australia and Western developed countries - can expect to live past 100 years old. I've blogged about this before (see here).

So "living to 120 and beyond" is no longer in the realm of impossible dreams. Indeed, Bolivia has just achieved a record of sorts, the oldest living person ever documented: an Aymara herder who is 123 years old! You can read about him (check this) and here he is, cutting a venerable figure:

What does it mean for most of us? Is it viewed as a beneficial advance or a burden? 

Not unsurprisingly, most Americans do not look on happily at the prospect. Here's an interesting highlight from the Pew Report:

Asked whether they, personally, would choose to undergo medical treatments to slow the aging process and live to be 120 or more, a majority of U.S. adults (56%) say “no.” But roughly two-thirds (68%) think that most other people would. And by similarly large margins, they expect that radically longer life spans would strain the country’s natural resources and be available only to the wealthy (highlight added).

To find out more, you can link to the Pew study here. Or read an excellent opinion piece by Charles M. Blow here

Does it mean as Pope Benedict XVI once wrote, that "disposing of death in reality is the most radical way of disposing of life"? 

A 'radical way of disposing of life', I love that expression.

Undoubtedly that's why young people love to live dangerously, taking risks and driving at high speed. 

Like James Dean did. 

Dying young in a car crash after making only three films that turned him into a household name, he stayed young in our memories forever. 

Here's the trailer for Rebel Without a Cause, a perfect 1950s movie yet so close to us, if only because of the inter-generational conflicts:

  The central question is: how do you value life when death is increasingly delayed? What is your take on this? 

I tried to answer the question in my FOREVER YOUNG serial novel, particularly in Part One, I Will Not Leave You Behind that zeroes in on what I believe will be the main defining feature of our world 200 years from now: the fact that medical advances will tend to benefit only the ultra rich. They will be the ones able to afford the expense of staying, and most important, looking young

And that raises issues of its own. Because if you live and love that long, how do you part from your loved one who may be much younger than you, particularly if you have never told him how old you really are, and you didn't because you looked young?

You might believe such issues are not for you, but they are likely to press on you sooner than you think...Are you ready to undergo medical treatment to slow the aging process and look 'young forever'?

Update on FOREVER YOUNG: I plan to rename Part One Programmed to Die and make it much shorter, actually a prologue to the whole book (and I'm dropping the reference to the year 2213 in the title too - but that's a detail). Part Two will also be renamed A Troubled Inheritance and become the first part of the book which will have three parts in total. The last two parts (not yet published and called The Immortality Trip and The Hibernation Party) are fully written and I'm busy editing them with the able (and indispensable) help of beta readers. The whole book is scheduled to come out in the fall. In the meantime, if you haven't read it, start with Part One, it will give you a taste of what's coming and it's only 99 cents. To see it on Amazon, click here.